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July 07, 2017

Iowa - Where the Music Died

Clear Lake, Iowa is most likely in our memories for the Winter Dance Party of February 2 1959.  And that is the reason the Surf Ballroom is one of our stops.  Perhaps the best known and most infamous tour in Rock and Roll history, immortalized as The Day the Music Died, by Don McLean .  Dion and the Belmonts, Frankie Sardo, Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup and Carl Bunch joined Ritchie Valens, J.P. “The Big Bopper” and Buddy Holly in the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa as part of the Winter Dance Party.

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Mason City Globe-Gazette article is HERE.
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The tour schedule.  We’ll look into how many of these old ballrooms still exist and might plan on seeing more on another trip.
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A tribute to Richie Valens,  the Big Bopper
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and Buddy Holly
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Bobby Vee & The Shadows performed in Fargo, ND on Feb. 3rd, while Jimmy Clanton, Fabian & Frankie Avalon were substituted as the tour’s headliners. Frankie Sardo, Dion & The Belmonts and The Crickets continued until the end of the tour.  The final tour schedule with dates can be found HERE.

Among the notables that have played at the Surf are Paul Revere and the Raiders, and all three generations of the Nelson family.
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as have the Beach Boys and scores of others
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Although, most likely restored, the motif remains as it appeared in 1959, with pineapple wall paper and palm trees.  It’s a huge dance floor with seating for 2100.  The Surf remains an awesome venue, a fine example of the ballrooms from the era.  It is listed in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and as a National Historic Landmark.
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The crash site is 7 miles northwest of Clear Lake at the corner of Gull and 315th Street.  There is an easement of a bit over 100 yards from the corner to site.  The crash occurred in a corn field, this day the field was planted with soy beans.
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It is a custom to leave a guitar pick as tribute at the memorial, but …
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Instead I made a CD of the of that evening with the performance in order.  The songs (studio reproductions) are preceded with an NPR piece on Buddy Holly’s Last Concert, followed by Don McClean’s American Pie.  I trust that it will be enjoyed by another fan.
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Like so many others I believe the music did not die that day, but changed forever.  Elvis and the Beetles credit Holly with influencing their music.  Long Live Rock and Roll – Music can change the Mortal Soul!  Rock and Roll lives!

The Winnebago Factory plant is in Forest River just a half hour away.   No cameras are allowed on the FREE factory tour, but if you have taken the tour, or seen the video, we got quite a kick that Rufus (Fleetwood Pulse) was the ‘other’ manufacturer every time! as they compared construction techniques.

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On the upside, Winnebago allows an S.O.B. (Some Other Brand) to stay in their campsite, FREE!  First come, with level electric only sites. 

Our last stop in Iowa is Effigy Mounds National Monument.  We stopped at the Visitor Center for some ideas of a hike.  To the Scenic View and return was recommended.  So off we went …

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The trail is covered with wood chips.  Probably easy to maintain, but I’m in open toed sandals …
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The reason the trail is ‘Dangerous’ are those fricken mosquitoes!, not the darkness … at least I’m almost out of spots to be bit ….
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If you get this far and are in need of non-bio diesel, like us, it’s Welcome to Wisconsin!

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after a quick sprint through Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana we'll settle in Dayton for a month.

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